Call for participants: Belief and Causality Relating to Accidents

Andrew Bober, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Strathclyde is seeking respondents for his survey about “Belief and Causality Relating to Accidents”. Bober has written the summary below for The Skeptic and we’d invite you to complete the survey and provide constructive, critical feedback if you have 10 minutes spare.


Research Rational – Belief & Causality


According to Heinrich (1931), who developed what we know as the domino theory, 88% of all accidents are caused by unsafe acts of people, 10% by unsafe actions and 2% by acts of God. He proposed a five-factor accident sequence in which each factor would actuate the next step in the manner of toppling dominoes lined up in a row.


Whilst Heinrich was a pioneer in the field of accident prevention, and must be given his due, the sources of his research are unavailable and rife with misinterpreted terminology (Manuele, 2011). Stefansson (1928) makes the case that people are willing to accept as fact what is written or spoken without adequate supporting evidence, and perhaps none are more evident than myths surrounding Heinrich’s work. These have become embedded within the psyche of many practitioners, and need to be dislodged.


Curiously, the first step in the sequence which Heinrich’s proposes, ‘ancestry and social environment’, has become either omitted or at most anecdotally mentioned with a compulsive predilection for generalization and simple induction and the arbitrary bias of applying personal experience as a means of rationalisation. Yet, the influence of ‘ancestry and social environment’ is a well-established concept within various scientific fields.


Kouabenan’s (2009) work is particularly relevant as it hypothesises that an understanding of the beliefs people hold about risks and the causes of accidents, as well as their perceptions of risk targets and the need for safety, are important prerequisites for effectively managing risk and designing preventive measures. Kayani et al. (2012†‡) uses a similar approach when looking at cultural fatalism within road accidents in Pakistan. Harrell (1995) looked at similar factors in agriculture and fishery, while Murraya et al. (1997) researched similar factors to accidents in fishery.  Arbous & Kerrich’s (1951) and Clarke’s (2006) studies show that there is the possibility that safety perceptions are much more predictive in some occupational settings compared to others.


Therefore, the purpose of this enquiry is to:


• Ascertain the connection between ‘belief-fatalism-causality’ and gauge its significance in root cause analysis of accidents.

• Provide supplementary understanding of root cause analysis beyond the over-employment of generalization and simple induction.


This is an initial piece of post-graduate research that will be used to develop a fuller postgraduate theme. It does not rely only on the survey but participants are invited to draw attention to any perceived inherent flaws or ambiguities within its methodologies.




Arbous, A. G; Kerrich J. E. (1951). Accident Statistics and the Concept of Accident-Proneness. Biometrics, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Dec, 1951), pp. 340-432. Available from:


Clarke, S. (2006). Contrasting perceptual, attitudinal and dispositional approaches to accident involvement in the workplace. Safety Science, Vol 44, Issue 6, (July 2006), pp. 537-550. Available from:


Harrell, W. (1995). Factors influencing involvement in farm accidents. Percept Mot Skills 81: pp. 592-594


Heinrich, H. (1931). Industrial Accident Prevention. New York: McGraw-Hill.


Kayani, A; King M. J; Fleiter, J. J. (2012†). Fatalism and its implications for risky road use and receptiveness to safety messages: a qualitative investigation in Pakistan. Health Education Research Advance Access, 17 September 2012, pp. 1-12. Available from:


Kayani, A; King M. J; Fleiter, J. J. (2012‡). Achieving safe road use in a rapidly motorising country : The influence of longstanding beliefs on risky driver behaviour in Pakistan. In International Conference of Applied Psychology (ICAPP 2012), 16-18 December 2012, Lahore, Pakistan.(Unpublished). Available from:


Kouabenan, D.R. (2009). Role of beliefs in accident and risk analysis and prevention. Safety Science, 47, pp. 767-776. University Pierre Mende`s France, Grenoble II, France. Available from:


Manuele, F. (2011). Reviewing Heinrich: Dislodging Two Myths From the Practice of Safety. Journal of American Safety Society of Safety Engineers. Available from:


Murraya, M; Fitzpatricka, D; O’Connella, C. (1997). Fishermens blues: Factors related to accidents and safety among Newfoundland fishermen. Work & Stress: An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations Volume 11, Issue 3, 1997, pp. 292-297. Available from:


Stefansson, V. (1928). The standardization of error. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd

January 12, 2014 at 10:20 am | Skeptic News | 1 Comment »

An Honest Liar

The following is from Merrill Sterritt of Film Presence:

For the past two years Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein have been filming James “The Amazing” Randi for a feature-length documentary entitled An Honest Liar. The film will tell the story of Randi’s colorful life and explore the dangers of magical thinking and deception. An Honest Liar will also reveal the unfolding drama of Randi’s involvement in a very personal deception of his own. In hopes of completing the film within the year, the filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. We are kindly asking for your support.

With your assistance we will be able to reach a wide audience about the film and fundraising campaign.

Here is a link to our Kickstarter campaign with some more info about the film and a trailer:

The Kickstarter campaign will end on February 15 (30 days from now) so we hope you will consider supporting the film, financially or just by spreading the word:
Twitter: Tweet about our campaign. Our handle is @AnHonestLiarDoc.
Newsletter: Include info about our film and Kickstarter campaign with a link in an upcoming newsletter.
Facebook: Write a status update about the campaign and “Like” the film’s Page –
Coverage: Help connect us with bloggers, writers and journalists who might want to help us share a film about James Randi’s story.
Emails: Send emails to your friends and colleagues, encouraging them to help raise awareness about this project.
We’re very excited to be producing An Honest Liar and educating the public about Randi and his mission of truth. The film includes such luminaries as Penn and Teller, Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Adam Savage, and in addition to Randi’s life will explore skepticism, illusion, and how easily human perception is fooled. The importance of science and reason will be shown in contrast to superstitious beliefs and harmful deceptions, all framed through the life and legend of “The Amazing Randi.”

January 26, 2013 at 8:46 am | Skeptic News | Comments Off on An Honest Liar

Event: The Ugly Animal Preservation Society

Sunday 21st October 2012
7.00pm for a 7.30pm start
The Melrose (formerly called the Vandella), 15-19 Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush, W12 8QQ
£5.00 (money raised goes to charity)

Tickets via
Hoested by

A night of stand-up comedy with a conservation twist!

The UGLY ANIMAL PRESERVATION SOCIETY is an evening dedicated to raising the profile of some of Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children. The panda gets too much attention.

Our society needs a mascot, one to rival the cute and cuddly emblems of many charities and organisations. And so I have gathered a terrific line up of comedians who will each champion a different ugly endangered species and at the end of the evening the audience shall vote for what will become our society’s symbol. It is going to be a great night! Money raised goes to charity.

MC Simon Watt (Channel 4’s Inside Nature’s Giants)
Suzi Ruffell (Nominated for the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2011)
Helen Arney (Festival of The Spoken Nerd, Infinite Monkey Cage)
Punk Science (The Science Museum)
Bush and McCluskey (Award winning musical comedians)
Helen Keen (BBC Radio 4’s It Is Rocket Science)
Steve Cross (Bright Club, Science Show Off)
Dan Schrieber (QI elf and creator of The Museum Of Curiosity)
Ellie Taylor (Comedian and presenter of BBC3’s Snog, Marry, Avoid)

October 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Skeptic News | Comments Off on Event: The Ugly Animal Preservation Society

Going Soul-o: one young atheist’s week at Christian camp (Day Seven)

Day Six

It’s done. I’ve been home from Soul Survivor twenty-four hours, and I’ve now more or less recovered emotionally and physically. I won’t deny that this project’s been hard – a lot more so than I expected on devising it. (My thanks go out, once again, to the readers of my blog who made it possible.) But am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Because being torn out of my skeptical bubble’s taught me a lot, and since it seems appropriate to make some conclusions in my final post, this blog will be a mixture of hope and fear.

August 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Skeptic News | 24 Comments »

Going Soul-o: one young atheist’s week at Christian camp (Day Six)

Day Five

Today will be my last day at Soul Survivor. Having witnessed the main meetings at this festival, with their cheering, praying and orgies of guitar-led worship, I’ve decided I don’t need to see tonight’s – and perhaps I’d enjoy the Where’s Wally-themed party if I’d come with friends, but as it is I’d likely end up a wallflower. My train is booked to leave in late afternoon, but not before I’ve heard one and a half more seminars.

At half past two I file into the first one, rucksack and all. The half hour process of emptying my tent and packing it with its contents into a backpack has somehow been cathartic, and I listen with refreshed attention; the speaker is Andrew Smith, an evangelical but also founder of a Christian-Muslim interfaith group, The Feast. He mentions in the course of the talk that he was previously a Christian youth worker in schools, and there are certain oneliners that seem overly rehearsed and might be read as condescending, but from the off I like the guy. Some other speakers here have an air of polish, but Andrew seems genuine and unassuming, so when he invites us at the start to tweet him our comments, I decide I will.

August 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Skeptic News | 9 Comments »

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